Category: Club Activities

Working Amateur Radio Satellites

The former Editor of the AMSAT Journal, Russ Tillman K5NRK, and his long-time partner, Eddie Pettis N5JGK presented “Amateur Radio Satellites: An Introduction and Demo of AO-85” to a packed house at the February meeting of CMSARA. A tour de force of experience, Russ and Eddie taught attendees about the origins of how amateurs got satellites included on NASA missions, how NASA benefited by adopting ham radio technology, and how easy it is to get started working the “birds”. A demonstration in the parking lot was conducted with Eddie Pettis narrating the activities. At least one new ham committed to getting into the world of satellites during the program. Others may indeed follow! Our Vicksburg ARC neightbors were given a standing ovation at the end of the presentation. (more…)

CMSARA Members Support MS-150 Bike Race

#wedostuffAt least eight members of the Central Mississippi Amateur Radio Association worked the 2015 MS-150 Bike Ride for Multiple Sclerosis fund-raising. A two-day, multiple course event, CMSARA members handled Net Control, rest stop stations, and other communications duties to support the bike riders and coordinators for the event. Including Mike McKay N5DU, Bill White, K5BLL, Rusty Yates KG5FSA, Don Porter AF5QD, Robert Errington KF5IZ, Bob Bullock K5RWB, Mike Flanagan WM5A, Dana Pierce KF5WDL, and Brian Castleberry AG5BC, CMSARA has worked with the Jackson ARC to provide amateur radio communications and logistical support services free-of-charge to the MS-150 operational staff.

Scenes from the event taken by Bob Bullock K5RWB, Public Information Officer for CMSARA, are shown below…

CMSARA Upgrades AV Equipment for Meeting Presentations (updated)

Focusing on the benefits of having good programs at each monthly meeting, CMSARA has begun upgrading the audio-video equipment assets owned by the Association. “Thanks to the donations by a CMSARA member,” said President Mike McKay N5DU, “we now have the start for a major enhancement of our capabilities for multimedia use by guest speakers. This will allow the Association or other individual members to donate equipment to further our capability to better enjoy the details of what a speaker has to say.” He added, “Since CMSARA is a registered non-profit with 501(c)(3) status, donations of equipment or money qualifies as a possible tax deduction for donors.”


New Push-Up Screen

CMSARA now has an 80″ Inch 4:3 format pull-up floor projection screen with a built-in aluminum storage case. Special Events Coordinator Mike Flanagan WM5A said, “This greatly helps the projected images be clearer to the audience. And it’s a snap to setup, which I like since I usually do this task!” CMSARA has previously used the painted wall behind the speaker’s podium as a provisional screen. “This worked ok but the crystal coating on projection screens make the details clearer and the image much brighter to the audience,” N5DU elaborated.


Elmo HD Visual Presenter with Speaker Screen

Another donation is an Elmo Visual Presenter Document Camera HV-5100XG with Color LCD Monitor LM-5611A. This device allows the speaker to show an object—such as a radio or circuit board—on a light board with a high resolution, auto-focusing camera that sends the image to a projector as an input like a Powerpoint presentation. This device has side lights so as to emphasize the 3D object being shown. It will take a PC input (such as with a Powerpoint or PDF slide deck or perhaps a software program) and the speaker can easily switch between these two inputs. It also has a remote control so the speaker can move around more easily from the Elmo device. A hard shell case was included for easy storage and transport to other locations. (more…)

Magnolia Intertie Nears Launch


At August’s meeting, the how and why of a new non-profit corporation, the Magnolia Intertie Incorporated, was described by Frank Howell K4FMH, President of the company. Why? “Fundamentally, we do this because we hams want to have ‘fun’ in the practice of our hobby. In this case, a linked backbone of repeaters around Mississippi will also be a great service to those in need of communications in times of emergency.” Over 35 amateur radio operators and those ready for the FCC examination were in attendance at this monthly meeting. The Intertie’s website can be found at


Frank K4FMH

Howell said he spent a full year researching other successful Intertie systems around the U.S. All had various suggestions on methods to utilize in linking repeater systems but all also had one definitive piece of advice: DO NOT try to organize a confederation of club repeaters! They said while it’s the quickest way to get a bunch of repeaters linked but it’s the most certain way to have it fail in a short time and with rancor between the Intertie and those clubs. Howell said that the Magnolia Intertie has heeded that set of recommendations. Clubs and other organizations, such as ARES chapters, MEMA, the National Weather Service, Storm Spotters, the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, may apply to connect to the Intertie’s backbone system through a mechanism that is being developed by a working group of Board members and technical advisors, the Network Operations Working Committee. The NOWC is chaired by Mike N5DU. Mike is also the current President of CMSARA and Secretary-Treasurer of Magnolia Intertie Inc. (more…)

There WAS a Hurricane…Net, That Is!

HWN-C&B-LogoWe promised that there might be a hurricane at the July meeting. There was! Well, of sorts. Bobby Graves KB5HAV has been a leader in the development of both the Hurricane Watch Net ( and the Maritime Mobile Service Net ( Some hams are active in this segment of emergency communications while others are fairly oblivious to them.


Bobby KB5HAV

The Hurricane Watch Net was founded in 1965 during Hurrican Betsy. An informal group of amateur operators saw a need to provide communications into and out of the impact zone. The HWN has operated since during every hurricane that is projected to reach landfall in the Atlantic, Carribean Basin, and the Gulf of Mexico. It developed and maintains a direct formal communication partnership with the National Hurrican Center in Miami. The Net activates on 20M at 14.325mhz and 50M on 7.268mhz whenever a hurricane is within 300 miles of projected landfall or is a serious threat to a populated area. There are about 40 amateurs located in strategic locations around North America who officially support the HWN’s activities.

Global EmComm!

fiest_clideRemember the Haiti disaster? How about those in the Philippines? We all remember Katrina! The Salvation Army is a worldwide church who has a strong emphasis in disaster relief implemented through emergency communications. Bill Fiest WB8BZH attended the Global Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Conference held last year in nearby Huntsville, AL. He plays a prominent role in the Army’s emergency network, SATERN. (more…)

Martin Wows Crowd at First CMSARA Program in Madison County

Martin K5FLU explaining antenna and transmission line RF characteristics

Wow! The crowd in CSpire Auditorium in Ridgeland on Tuesday evening, March 31, 2015, was spell-bound by the mastery of antenna and RF transmission line characteristics exhibited by Martin K5FLU. If you don’t recognize that call, it belongs to Martin F. Jue, President of MFJ Enterprises in Starkville MS. He is the pioneer of the “antenna analyzer,” originally called the “SWR analyzer”.

For two hours, Martin showed the fundamental characteristics of resistance (R) and inductance (X) as they play out in amateur radio antennas and transmission lines. Coupling the MFJ-269C analyzer with the ARRL software, TLW, he gave a virtuoso performance educating the crowd of about 50 in attendance in Ridgeland.

CSpire executive John Nordan said, “We are most happy to serve as host for this very interesting meeting.” They played excellent hosts with audio-video support and making the Central Mississippi Amateur Radio Association bring off it’s first public program in Madison County, home to some 150 licensed ham radio operators.

Slides from Martin’s talk are available in PDF by clicking here. ARRL software TLW information can be found here and the software itself here.

Mike WM5A, Special Events Coordinator for CMSARA, said it best, “A good time was had by all.”


Our host, John Nordan, of CSpire gave our Invocation
President McKay welcomed the crowd on behalf of CMSARA
Frank K4FMH introduced our speaker
and made breaking news by introducing the newest product of the MFJ family to those in attendance...not authorized by MFJ!
Martin as a small boy at family grocery store in Hollandale MS


Can’t Put Up an Antenna? Sure You Can!

Mike K5XU

Mike K5XU

Being “vision-challenged” hasn’t stopped Jackson ham Mike Duke K5XU from experimenting with all kinds of antennas. One might say he has a love for antenna wire! During the March program of CMSARA, Mike shared a box full of antenna parts and pieces with personal histories of how he used them. Wow! Being a dorm mother at the Mississippi School for the Blind where K5XU attended must’ve been a boot camp in ham radio. Mike and his fellow non-sighted amateur OMs experimented with all kinds of make-do and “let’s see what this does” types of experimentation. Often making fun of himself, K5XU is a mature amateur radio operator. He is perhaps the “Dean” of hams in the Capital City area!